Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Prize watch: the Koren Prize (aka, Department of Aww Shucks)

About 25 years ago, the history department at the University of Toronto had a sudden gap to fill and, fresh from my 1600-1763 contribution to the Illustrated History of Canada, I taught the French Canada survey, almost the only time I did any formal university undergraduate teaching.

I enjoyed it mostly, at least as a one-time thing, and enjoyed the students a lot (after having been warned several times by other faculty: students these days are lazy, ill-prepared, concerned only about getting an adequate grade blah blah blah.)  Being new and doing my best to read all the departmental memos that came around, I learned the history department gave an annual prize for best undergraduate essay. So when one of my students submitted what seemed to me a pretty terrific essay -- on New France-indigenous relations, no easy topic -- I entered it.

Hey, it won. My student got a lunch, a small cash prize too, I think.

Today my inbox tells me that this year something called the Koren Prize, given for the best journal article on any aspect of French history by a North American scholar, has gone to an essay in New France-indigenous relations. Same author: Peter Cook, now Professor Peter Cook of the University of Victoria history department. His prize-winning article was in the Canadian Historical Review last year; you can access it via the link above.) 

Congratulations and credit are all his, of course.  But maybe I did sorta know  what I was doing back then.
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